One junior player I've had my eye on for a while now is Kellen Damico
. He's the lone American male playing the French now.
Stop The Presses: U.S. Male Wins at French Open!
PARIS -- At 12:48 p.m. on Day 8 of the French Open, it finally happened. A U.S. male won a singles match here.
Though there was no call from the White House, Kellen Damico, 18, of Parker, Colo., will have to be content with just moving on to the second round of the French Open juniors.
He defeated Roy Bruggeling of the Netherlands in straight sets. I guess that ought to silence the clay court critics, huh?
Damico is Better, I Swear It
PARIS -- It's been nearly a year since I wrote about 18-year-old Kellen Damico's bad junior temper and, after watching him fight his way into the quarterfinals of the French Open juniors today, I'll admit he's getting better.
There were a few tossed rackets and the usual pained grimaces. And there was that one bad episode in the first set, when he went far to his left to retrieve a ball, missed the shot and leaned on the railing out on Court 16 and said to himself, but loud enough for everyone in the five rows of bleachers to hear: "I don't have any idea what I'm doing here." Except that he added one other word.
"I have the occasional slip," he said later, chuckling. "Everyone thinks I'm the psychotic bad boy. Then, again, I am a pretty outgoing person. But I think I'm channeling things a lot better. I'm still the same person, just growing up a little bit."
I don't want to dwell too much on his temper, though it's no small matter. It's more important to talk about his tennis, which is worlds better than a year ago. He's competing better. That's the first thing you notice. He used to lose a point and lose his mind. But in this 7-6 (6), 6-4 win over No. 6 Brydan Klein of Australia he did a good of holding his composure.
He's got almost all the Andy Roddick mannerism, which he undoubtedly picked up before he was kicked out of John Roddick's San Antonio Academy for his objectionable behavior. Same forehand as Andy. The same backhand Andy used to have before he changed under Jimmy Connors. He doesn't have the Roddick service motion, but he wiggles his left hand before he serves, just as Roddick does to get his rubber message bracelet from riding up onto his wrist.
There's good reason to keep an eye on Damico, who is the only U.S. male to win singles matches here this year, and the only Yank junior left in the draw. He next plays fourth-seeded Fernando Romboli of Brazil. However he does here, he'll be back at Wimbledon, where he won the junior doubles last year. Then, in the fall, off to the University of Texas.
Why Texas? "I've been a Longhorn since birth," he said. "My grandfather swam for Texas and is in the Hall of Fame there. Pride, passion, tradition. . .that's why I'm going there."
He'll find time to play some Futures events as well as playing for UT and he expects to spend a fair amount of time in the university weight room. "I want to get bigger, stronger, faster," he said.
Kellen has a lot of people pulling for him here and back home. He'll have a lot more if he can not only take care of his game, but his mouth as well.
Bricker also recently did an interview with Rhyne Williams
"I hadn't seen young Rhyne Williams since he won the Orange Bowl 14s at the University of Miami two years ago, but aside from having shot up to 6 feet 1, he looked about the same when we visited at the French Open on Saturday, the day before the start of the junior tournament. Photos of Kellen
Cheerful face, hair about an inch short of a buzz cut and the visor of his baseball cap skewed about 10 degrees off to the right. [. . .]
What caught my eye about him at the Orange Bowl 14s was the wide variety of shots he could hit. But, unlike Young, Williams has size and a big serve. Still, let's not get too excited. Let's just say he's a prospect.
1. 2006 USO
2. & 3. 2007 French Open